Anyone can build traps, but few bodybuilders - beginners or even advanced - give any special thought or direct attention to the trapezius region. The traps and neck tend to grow along with the
rest of the body's development. Such exercises as barbell squats, bench presses, pullovers, rowing, curls and chinups, although not direct movements for the area, do involve the muscles of the
shoulder girdle and trapezius area. Nevertheless, occasionally bodybuilders do need to include a couple of direct exercises to stimulate trapezius growth, simply because that region may be
under par in development compared to the rest of the physique. Generally bodybuilders who especially need to include additional specialized trap work are the taller men, and of those usually
the ones who possess long necks. The short bodybuilder seldom needs direct trap work.
Three of the best exercises for building bigger traps in the shortest possible time are the conventional deadlift, barbell two-arm hang clean and, of course, the barbell shrug. The first two are more or less compound exercises which use multiple muscle groups. The barbell shrug on the other hand isolates the traps specifically.
I have found that, while all three exercises are effective, the fast action of the barbell two-arm hang clean seems to put an extra heavy load on the trapezius. It's essentially the same as the standard weightlifting clean from the floor as in clean and jerk. The only difference is you first pick up and hold the bar at arms' length before cleaning it to the shoulders. Thus the movement is shorter and, because the legs cannot aid in the effort, the involvement of the traps is more pronounced.
One of the important factors in any exercise schedule is the system you use in addition to the exercises. If you are really lacking in that shoulder slope, give each exercise about 5 sets. Build up the weight as fast as you can from set to set. If you tire before the fifth set, reduce the weight to match your reduced strength and stamina. Decide on the number of reps you think suits you best, usually between 6 and 10. Do 6 reps on your heaviest set. Train the traps perhaps twice per week, resting two or three days between workouts.
Don't slow up during your workouts or take too much rest between sets. About 30 seconds to one minute should do. If you rest too much, you are going to find you will not make the progress you desire because the demands you put on your muscles will not be sufficient to force them to grow.
If your traps are as stubborn as you indicated in your letter, you might try supersetting two different trap exercises such as barbell shrugs (which pre-exhaust the traps) and the barbell hang clean. Though I earlier suggested 5 sets of each exercise, that was for individual exercise application only. If you are supersetting, never do more than 3 supersets or you will surely overtrain from the intensity of this technique.
If you want the appearance of wider shoulders, and you are already doing plenty of deltoid work, don't think in terms of cutting down on the trapezius exercises, but rather increase your abdominal work to reduce the waist girth. This combination is sure to give the impression of good, strong, wide, sloping shoulders.